Postcard from Mexico City: A street art sampler

Our headquarters during our stay was in Roma Norte, but we wandered afoot a far piece from there. These snapshots of street art were gathered during those ramblings.

My grandmother, Thelma Virginia Tarrall Williams (1899-1999), did not believe in keeping her hands idle. She lived a long, long time so had plenty of time to crochet. Afghans. Afghans for her children, her grandchildren and even some of her great-grandchildren before retiring her needles. Aside from one that burned in our house in 1975, most of the coverlets probably still exist, cherished as family heirlooms.

Whenever I see a contemporary take on knitting or crocheting, such as the one cloaking the tree trunk above, I think what fun Grana would have had liberating her craft from the confines of domesticity into public spaces. I can almost hear her chuckling with pleasure over transforming a tree for all to see.

The serendipitous pleasure of encountering street art lies in the exuberant freedom of expression of its creators.

Postcard from Mexico City: The place of coyotes

Brought into submission by the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan in 1428, the Tepanecas who lived in the ancient village of Coyoacan, the place of coyotes, remained resentful of their conquerors.

This historical enmity served the Spaniard Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) well. Retreating from revolting Tenochtitlan following the death of Moctezuma II (1466-1520) from unnatural causes, Cortes lost close to 900 men before arriving at Coyoacan. Fortunately for the Spaniards, they were welcomed as allies against the Aztecs. Coyoacan served as the conquistador’s headquarters and briefly as the capital of New Spain as his conquest of the Aztec empire was completed.

This early Spanish occupancy led to the beginning of construction of the parish church of San Bautista, completed in 1552, the third oldest parish church in Mexico City. The town remained independent of its expanding neighbor until finally its absorption into the federal district in 1857.

The central colonial plazas of Coyoacan are charming, an attribute not lost on those living in the center of Mexico City. On weekends, unfortunately when we chose to visit, traffic jams clog the arteries leading in and out. The quaint historic center is overrun by approximately 70,000 visitors. Advice: Visit on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday if possible.

Postcard from Mexico City: A few leftover “dulces huesudos”

Still had a few “bony treats” left haunting my computer from wanderings around Hallowmas and Day of the Dead. A village of skeletons was the theme of a festival in La Alameda Central. Altars were set up everywhere, including Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Coyoacan. “Una Ofrenda de Pelicula” exhibit in El Museo Dolores Olmedo in Xochimilco saluted filmmaking. Even shamans vending their cleansing spells in the zocolo enhanced themselves with bonemen make-up.

And then thrust in the middle were invasive Halloween traditions sneaking in more and more from el norte (see prior post). Once children discover the sweet rewards of trick-or-treating, it’s pretty impossible to close that door.

There does seem to be uncertainty about when to do what. In the Roma Norte area where we have been staying, the costumed children entered the restaurants and went to the bar areas at the back to ask the staff for treats. Sometimes they were given candy; sometimes spare change; often nothing. The businesses declining are fortunate the trick part as payback does not seem part of the formula.

Receiving mixed results, the period of requests seems extended. Families paraded their costumed kids out nightly – Halloween night, All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the confusion of adding this new tradition to ancient ones, or perhaps simply to maximize the possibilities of success.

This seasonal free trade between Mexico and el norte flows both ways. Certainly San Antonio is far richer from its artistic adaptations of colorful Dia de los Muertos traditions.

Once again, happy Hallowmas.